One On One
There are not many female R&B artists who start out as a member of a group and thenmove to a successful solo career. There are even fewer who earn a Grammy Award andrelease 15 Top 40 Billboard R&B hits. The numbers nearly disappear for those who become one of the first artists with a pop record featuring an MC. These are the highstandards that today’s artists continue to follow, but then again there is only one JodyWatley.Growing up on the south side of Chicago with a father who once was a DJ for renowned black radio station WVON it’s no wonder that music was the path Jody would be led tofollow. “I love Chicago and have many found memories of living there, and always look forward to coming home,” said Watley.The journey to music has allowed her to live many places. In fact Jody says she issomewhat of a Gypsy. While she currently lives in California, during our interview, she briefly recounted her stay in London. That trip was supposed to be a six-month hiatus for the singer following the breakup of the group Shalamar. As many readers will recall, Ms.Watley was the group’s original female member. “I think I would have stayed there andlived in Paris if not for the fact that I couldn’t speak French!” she says. “However, livingin London was fine because the language is the same. But the culture is different andvisitors learn so much about how others live, and the taste they have for music, arts andculture.”The reminder of how much we have in common as women hit me as soon as she spoke of her son’s graduation from high school the next day, calmly conducting an interview whileshopping for last minute items while preparing for the big event. It is obvious that she hasthe whole multi-tasking thing down to a science like so many women…but Jody Watleyis hardly like many other women.Jody had many choices to make, but she never left the business. Jody lived life. She hadchildren. She made her children her priority. Today it is evident as her youngest son prepares to go away to college that Watley is a proud mom and the cheers she wants mostare from her children. “I still perform and enjoy it, but being a mother is my priority.”Artist Prince was an inspiration to Watley when he took control of his music career andstarted his own record label to release his music. She thought it was the right thing for anartist to do she and followed that lead by launching her own record label Avitone.“Having control of my music and life was important,” she said.“The freedom of being a businesswoman allows you to be completely creative and produce good music without restrictions and you also control your own deadlines andrelease dates based on your schedule.” Most of her time is spent balancing work, traveland family these days. When asked when she plans to release new music she says, “Ihave an album in the works, Chameleon.” She is still working to create her masterpiece.